Curating conscious luxury

Enabling our customers to make informed choices is fundamental to the curation of luxury fashion across our flagship sustainability platforms, NET SUSTAIN and YOOXYGEN. NET SUSTAIN has grown since its inception in 2019, now stocking 100 leading brands across sustainable luxury fashion and beauty, including Stella McCartney, Gabriela Hearst, Veja and Dr Barbara Sturm, to name a few. Libby Page, Senior Fashion Market Editor, explains how NET SUSTAIN is empowering customers worldwide to choose fashion that’s aligned with their values and is better for people and the planet.

Q: What does sustainable fashion mean to you? 

A: Sustainability is a single word that encompasses a number of complex issues relating to every aspect of the fashion industry – from the way raw materials are cultivated through to the processes that are used to turn materials and ingredients into products and, of course, the practices that are applied across the supply chain. But for me, it’s about the brands that put sustainability at the heart of absolutely everything they do.

Q: How are customer expectations changing when it comes to fashion and sustainability?

A: Our customers are asking for more transparency, and they are smart to do so. Our NET SUSTAIN platform is really designed to help inform and allow them to make choices that align with their own personal values.

Q: What qualities do you look for when curating products for NET SUSTAIN?

A: NET SUSTAIN is built around seven key attributes, which take into account human, animal and environmental welfare throughout the fashion supply chain. Each attribute has specific criteria and thresholds relevant to its assessment. The attributes focus around Considered Materials & Ingredients, Considered Processes, Reducing Waste, Locally Made, Craft and Community, Animal Welfare, and Vegan brands.

Q: And how does the NET SUSTAIN platform communicate sustainability attributes to customers?

A: Products and brands in NET SUSTAIN are featured in the dedicated area on site and are badged so that customers can easily identify items that have sustainable qualities. Our system means customers can choose according to the attributes that matter most to them. 

Q: In the global conversation around accelerating sustainability, often our industry looks to designers to find solutions. What role can fashion buyers play in enabling customers to make conscious choices?

A: As a global business, the product we buy has real influence on customers’ wardrobes worldwide. We have the potential to empower millions of customers to make better choices by curating products for them that have a more positive impact on ecosystems and the welfare of people. As a globally recognized leader in luxury fashion we believe it is our duty to lead change and to contribute to more conscious practices across our industry.

This is, of course, a complex area, so we have focused on two things for NET SUSTAIN. Firstly, transparency. We categorize products through an attribute system so that customers can easily make choices aligned with their values. Secondly, during the buying process we champion brands that go above and beyond in areas that improve sustainability. Ultimately, we think this has the power to drive positive change in our industry – these brands inspire and educate other brands, which supports much broader progress.

Q: How is NET SUSTAIN leveraging data and technology to encourage customers to make more sustainable choices? 

A: We have access to valuable data (with over 4.3 million engaged customers across the YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP) which means NET-A-PORTER can constantly refine services based on real-life information and feedback. In turn, the data insights that we can provide large brands is unparalleled. It can really steer strategy and inform decision making, and can ultimately have a positive effect on business and sell through, leading to a more sustainable business model. We also know that technology and innovation can provide unlimited potential to enhance the luxury e-commerce experience. It will be an exciting journey to see how emerging technology tools will help our customers to make more sustainable choices in the future.

Q: What lessons have you learnt from NET SUSTAIN that you would apply more widely in your work?

A: I’ve learnt that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to sustainable fashion. Every brand takes a slightly different approach and prioritizes different issues depending on the nature of their supply chain and end product. Therefore, it’s important we take a nuanced and nimble approach with all the brands we stock, as our partners in advancing this effort.

Q: What is your hope for the future of NET SUSTAIN?

A: The launch and expansion of NET SUSTAIN has been an important milestone in NET-A-PORTER’s sustainability journey, which starts with being able to offer our customer a choice. We recognize that many of the brands we partner with are taking steps to address sustainability and we look forward to celebrating more of this important work in the future. NET SUSTAIN is part of a long-term journey for NET-A-PORTER and is a commitment that is integrated into YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP’s broader ambitions and strategy, so it’s safe to say we have a lot to look forward to.

More details on NET SUSTAIN’s seven key attributes are available at NET-A-PORTER

YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP commits to curate a conscious experience by enabling our customers to make informed and conscious choices throughout their shopping journey, by introducing a range of online solutions by 2022. This commitment falls under the Circular Culture pillar of our Infinity strategy.

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